5 Mets offseason storylines to watch, including futures of Seth Lugo and Steven Matz

Brodie Van Wagenen, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, and J.T. Realmuto TREATED artBrodie Van Wagenen, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, and J.T. Realmuto TREATED art

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Brodie Van Wagenen, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, and J.T. Realmuto TREATED art

After failing to meet their lofty expectations during the 2020 season, the Mets are entering what could be one of the most interesting offseasons in the history of the franchise.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The team is in the process of being sold to Steve Cohen (pending MLB owner approval), there is tons of money coming off the payroll, huge decisions to make on current members of the roster, and a plan to put in place regarding the offseason approach for a team that is still in win-now mode.” data-reactid=”33″>The team is in the process of being sold to Steve Cohen (pending MLB owner approval), there is tons of money coming off the payroll, huge decisions to make on current members of the roster, and a plan to put in place regarding the offseason approach for a team that is still in win-now mode.

Here are five of the biggest questions facing the Mets as their offseason begins…

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Is Seth Lugo a starter or reliever?” data-reactid=”48″>Is Seth Lugo a starter or reliever?

Lugo, who has been clear for the last few years that he wants to be a starter, finally got another crack at the rotation this past season. The results were not great, with Lugo posting a 6.15 ERA in 26.1 IP as a starter after having a 2.61 ERA in 10.1 IP as a reliever.

The sample was small and Lugo’s ERA as a starter was inflated a bit due to a very rough start in Philadelphia where he may have been tipping pitches. But he was also rocked in his final start of the season, when he allowed six runs in just 1.1 IP.

During his career, Lugo has been an average starter and a dominant reliever, and the Mets are going to have to decide where he provides more value. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Things are made more complicated since the state of the bullpen is not great and the&nbsp;Mets currently have only&nbsp;two reliable starting pitchers heading into 2021 — Jacob deGrom and David Peterson.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”52″>Things are made more complicated since the state of the bullpen is not great and the Mets currently have only two reliable starting pitchers heading into 2021 — Jacob deGrom and David Peterson

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="What is the&nbsp;offseason&nbsp;plan to improve?” data-reactid=”53″>What is the offseason plan to improve?

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Things will understandably be up in the air until the ownership situation is resolved and Sandy Alderson takes over as team president (pending the approval of Cohen). But it’s fair to believe that the Mets will be going for it again in 2021.” data-reactid=”54″>Things will understandably be up in the air until the ownership situation is resolved and Sandy Alderson takes over as team president (pending the approval of Cohen). But it’s fair to believe that the Mets will be going for it again in 2021.

In order to go for it, the Mets need to fix their starting rotation, bolster the bullpen, find a new catcher, and add an everyday center fielder who can handle the position defensively.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="When it comes to fixing the rotation and addressing the hole behind the plate, Trevor Bauer and J.T. Realmuto would be perfect fits. But even if the Mets land one or both of them, they will have plenty of additional work to do.” data-reactid=”56″>When it comes to fixing the rotation and addressing the hole behind the plate, Trevor Bauer and J.T. Realmuto would be perfect fits. But even if the Mets land one or both of them, they will have plenty of additional work to do.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Does Steven Matz get non-tendered?” data-reactid=”57″>Does Steven Matz get non-tendered?

Entering the 2020 season, Matz was a reliable mid-rotation starter who had shown flashes of being more. His career ERA was 3.98 and he was being counted on as the glue that would help hold New York’s rotation together.

Then this happened: 9.68 ERA and 1.69 WHIP with 14 home runs allowed in 30.2 IP between the rotation and bullpen in 2020.

What went wrong with Matz this past season was so alarming that it’s impossible to count on him heading into 2021.

Matz is entering his final season of arbitration, and it shouldn’t be a slam dunk that he’ll be tendered a contract after making $5 million in 2020.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Will Luis Rojas be the manager in 2021?” data-reactid=”62″>Will Luis Rojas be the manager in 2021?

Much of the focus on managers from the fan perspective is on what they do during games, which is understandable. Pitching moves are dissected (and Rojas had some questionable ones), and the sloppiness of the team and/or defensive miscues are often blamed on the manager (though they often shouldn’t be).

That the Mets finished 26-34 was bad. And Rojas had some hiccups in his first year at the helm. But he was not responsible for the roster he was handed and was largely solid when it came to X’s and O’s.

Beyond the above, Rojas — who entered his first year as manager with a reputation of being a terrific communicator — continued to communicate incredibly well with his players. He was also impressive as the face of the franchise to the media on a daily basis, and was forthcoming with detailed explanations of what went wrong when things went haywire on the field (as they sometimes did for the Mets in 2020).

There is often change when new regimes take over, so nothing is set in stone for Rojas. But he has a strong case to return and manage the Mets in 2021.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="What about Brodie Van Wagenen?” data-reactid=”71″>What about Brodie Van Wagenen?

The situation with Van Wagenen (who is under contract through 2022) is arguably trickier than the one with Rojas.

With Alderson set to take over as team president if Cohen is approved, Van Wagenen’s job would at the very least be impacted in a major way. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="There have already been rumors trying Alderson to potential GM candidates, such as Oakland Athletics executive Billy Owens.” data-reactid=”74″>There have already been rumors trying Alderson to potential GM candidates, such as Oakland Athletics executive Billy Owens.

In addition to any possible ripple effect on Van Wagenen due to an ownership change and the potential addition of Alderson, it’s also fair to question whether the job he’s done the last two years merits him returning.

Van Wagenen’s future with the Mets should come into focus right around the time the ownership situation is settled.

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